Peer-to-peer’s power lies in its willingness to rethink old assumptions and reinvent the way we do things. This can be quite constructive, even revolutionary, but it also risks being hugely destructive in that we can throw out lessons previously learned from the web experience. In particular, we know that the Web suffered because metadata infrastructure was added relatively late (1997+), an add-on situation that had an impact on various levels.
The Web burst onto the scene before we managed to agree on common
descriptive practices—ways of describing “stuff.”
Consequently, the vast majority of web-related tools lack any common
infrastructure for specifying or using the properties of web content.
WYSIWYG HTML editors don’t go out of their way to make their
metadata support (if any) visible, nor do they request metadata for a
document when authors press the “Save” button. Search
engines provide little room for registering metadata along with their
associated sites. Robots and spiders often discard any metadata in
the form of HTML
tags they might find.
This has resulted in an enormous hodgepodge of a data set with little
rhyme or reason. The Web is hardly the intricately organized
masterpiece represented by its namesake in nature.
Early peer-to-peer applications come from relatively limited spheres (MP3 file-sharing, messaging, Weblogs, groupware, etc.) with pretty well understood semantics and implicit metadata—we know it’s an MP3 because it’s in ...